Around about 1900, when some of us were in our tender years, the annual Christmas entertainment in those days was something to write about. It was usually started some time in November, when the kids of the school were called for commencement practices for the annual affair. Such well known characters of those days who did the supervising for the church school were: Margaret McCarter (later Mrs. Flanagan), Agnes McCarter, Robida Young, Mary Anderson, Tena-and Kate Campbell, Alf. Sadler and Jack Leyden. Such youngsters as Tena and Fanny Donaldson, Meda Young, the Anderson girls, the Sheppard boys (Gordon and Oswald), and the Campbells, Duncan and Dugald.
Etta Young was taking music lessons then, and had done so well that she was able to play some of the choruses at the party. There was a downstairs basement in the old church, and for the enjoyment of the kids there had to be a Santa Claus. Well, this particular time I have in mind, Alf. Sadler had to be the Santa Claus, and he was dressed in the familiar suits at that time, a chocolate overall affair, not the modern Santa as of today. There were about eight steps coming down to the basement, and Alf. had to carry down a stuffed reindeer some of the fellows had built, horns and all. Alf. had to hide himself in the underpinning of the reindeer construction, and he was to break through in great glee once he had the contraption on the downstairs platform.
Weather conditions in Almonte were likely what they are now, clear and cold and lots of snow, but in the packed school room it was midsummer temperature, so that when Alf. came out of hiding he had to undo his hood and wipe off his fevered brow before the time came for distributing an orange and a bag of candy, mostly gum drops.
There were prizes for proficiency as well as for work done in the school. One of the big prizes was that for perfect answers to the 107 questions of the Shorter Catechism, and I remember a girl named Tena Stewart, one of the Appleton Stewarts, got the prize for this job. She was perfect, and got a fine Bible from James McLeod. Some of us lesser lights got lesser prizes. The writer got a book, “In His Steps,” for reciting some passages of Scripture. But for all round good times, not likely the kids from any of the old “red schools” roundabout had more fun than we did.
On one other occasion, part of the Christmas entertainment was a dumb bell drill by some of the girls from the high school. That was in P. C. McGregor’s days, and, while P. C. was a member of session, there was a terrific row before he got permission to put on the show. The girls were dressed in sailor costume, and it was felt that was a thoroughly unbecoming dress to fiddle around high jinking in a church hall with dumb bells. The young Campbells were ordered to vacate the place when the dumb bells were to come on, but of, course, being packed up close to the front, there was no room for getting out, and we had to suffer spiritually for a spell. However, front seat still charms some of us old fellows when a good show is to be had. I don’t suppose there is much of this kind of entertainment in Lanark County these days, but believe me it was out of this world during our tender years away back home. Mr. Andre
When Dugald Campbell was born on May 9, 1886, in Lanark, Ontario, his father, Donald, was 48 and his mother, Christinia, was 41. he lived in Almonte in 1901. He married Sarah Garret Johnston on September 10, 1913, in Vancouver, British Columbia. They had four children during their marriage. He died on August 17, 1973, in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the age of 87, and was buried there.